Who is Britain, now?

Apparently Nicola Sturgeon is ‘the most dangerous woman in’ the country/election/Britain/world.., depending on the hysteria level of your regular news platform of choice. I want to say that this is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard but you and I know that that would be just as ridiculous since we are hearing insultingly imbecilic election-related comments every day.

It seems as though every frit and hypocrite politician and his partner/advisor/journalist wants rUK to be terrified of Scotland and the Scots. Did those same people not just spend the last year hyperventilating about how silly the Scots were to think they could go it alone and how the rest of us would be bereft because of how dreadful it would be if Scotland left us and broke up the Union? And now that she has decided to stay and has become more influential, Scots are suddenly being called a threat to the Union? By the same people? Give me strength…

Really, as if it’s not cheap and nasty enough the way immigration is being framed, now we have to listen to all manner of villains and fools talking about the Scots  as though they were some invading and usurping horde. Well, maybe they are, if you’re a Thatcherite but, to me, the Scots are my fellow and equal citizens and always will be until and unless the day should come when they choose to be only my dear neighbours. Last time I checked, though, back in September, 2014, Scotland was as much a part of the United Kingdom and thus, part of my country, as are England, Wales and Northern Ireland. How pathetic the political-media-business complex sounded then and how desperate they sound now.

Personally, I find very attractive the idea of a Labour minority government with support, prodding and blocking from the Greens, the SNP and Plaid Cymru, as necessary and appropriate. I wish, heartily, that I could actually see that option on my ballot slip and vote for it rather than having to hope for it to be the outcome by happy accident.

But then, good grief and dear gods, Ed call me resilient, call me progressive Miliband goes and spoils it all with denials so persistent and so overtly unrealistic as to be risible and succeeding, mostly, in dancing to the mischief tune of a self-inflated Media and the sneaky, stupidly short-termist, increasingly nationalistic (à la Ukip) Cons who are terrified of an organised Left. Labour’s seeming ignorance of those to the left of it and the Party’s tragic failure to see all the opportunities in leading a larger progressive Left are just infuriating…

The UK’s collective population is around 63 million of which Scotland’s portion is less than 6 million. With a UK Parliament of 650 seats (irrespective of the Speaker and Sinn Fein), how on earth does the SNP, even if it wins every single one of its 59 constituency seats in Scotland, seriously threaten the unity of the Kingdom or effect any irreversible change all by herself except by the consent or indifference of a good majority of the Houses and indeed, the citizens of our country/countries. Of course the SNP is going to fight for its interests, probably shrewdly. Like every other party. Go figure! But Scotland would need one heck of a bionic tail to wag the whole dog and the dog would need to be in a drugged sleep. To be sure, her representatives could make Parliament very lively; give the government a hellish term and the electorate many kittens over the passions and potentials of the debates. But, isn’t that what a thriving democracy looks like in times of portentous issues and events? And isn’t robust challenge to the smug comfort of a corrosive status quo exactly what so many wanted Labour to do for the last five years? Isn’t that what those blasted Kippers have been and hope to continue doing? Bring on that SNP agitation, I say.

There are those Scots for whom Independence will probably always be the goal, simply as a matter of principle and there are others for whom it may forever be anathema. There are, though, many Scots for whom Independence came to be seen as the best solution to their despair at decades of Neoliberal economics and foreign policy, Westminster bubblethink and arrogant Little Englishism. So, whether by Coalition, confidence and supply or vote-by-vote, I wonder: if the progressive Left can positively influence the socio-economic direction of all four nations – how can it not – and we all start to feel that our Society is Just and benevolent – wherever we live – might not Independence recede in the minds and hearts of all but the die hardests..? Maybe a strong SNP force (including the et al of the progressive Left, of course) working with a willing Labour Party is actually the best way to heal the divisiveness caused by the Tories and keep the United Kingdom a United Kingdom – in nature, as well as name.

But who, even, is Britain, now? It’s clearly not the once and for all settled argument that the establishment and the No voters keep trying to insist that it is. I’m unnerved and sick already of the ad hoc superficial quick fix, bit of this and a bit of that, placate your personal voter base approach. Unionists, Independents and Federalists (please, gods, no to the latter); decentralisation, devolution and localism: I reckon we’re all being stitched up by that, wherever we live. And the longer I watch this farce play out, the more complex the matter of our democratic settlement reveals itself to be. The more tribal the political argument becomes; the more bile and paranoia is expressed; the more I see the electorate being made secondary to the decision making and the wisdom of having a constitutional convention being conveniently dismissed, the more I believe we need to go back a few steps and address the question we haven’t asked ourselves from either side of the Scottish Indyref, not as a whole nor as all of its national parts.

Who is Britain, now? Is she to be a mere quirk of geography and history, four nations united and governed as one State (notwithstanding other beneficial democratic reforms) or four nations that should just be sovereign, separate and independent of each other? I think this fundamental question should not have been so easily overlooked and that it will become increasingly pertinent in the near to medium term. Answering it would focus minds as to what we all think we want and need and what we actually want and need and thus, better inform our next moves. So, before we go making a veritable constitutional, economic and civil mess, awarding powers willy-nilly, here and there, out of reactionary panic and short-sighted party political expedience, can we please make up our minds?

Witnessing the inevitable defeat of the Conservative Party

Bittersweet is witnessing
the inevitable defeat of the Conservative Party.

Between hearty relish in
their hellish comedy of terrors
and embarrassment at Old Boy error
after schoolboy error

go the piggies in their own silk poke

with Power,
pungent as a cheaply perfumed soap
from Ivory Tower tripping
on their boring, sour tropes

and the more they slip and squeeze
is the more they prove their need,
the less it pleases decent folk.

And, oh,
comeuppance is a treat to see because,
let’s face it: could the bastards be
more worthy
and should not their sure demise
succeed the misery of battered, tattered
scattered, shattered
had it up to here and popping,
saturated lives

will rise
as Tory flies are dropping
now respect is lost to old rule ties
and cost is counted into value
by the wakened and the understanding wise.

Owning Democracy

Last week, Callme Dave Cameron raved that “the dream of a property-owning democracy was alive“. This, in spite of the fact that most people these days, are lucky just to be renting someone else’s property, let alone imagining owning some. This, in spite of the fact that, as far as assets go, the Cons seem to prefer that multinational corporations and other countries own chunks of our property than the citizens of the country they so ardently purport to love and serve.

And, too, this week, Callme has been spouting on about Britain being a ‘share-owning democracy’. He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr on Sunday that “being able to own shares in healthy, successful banks is the sort of country we should be building” even though he has done nothing to champion us having a proper, fully publicly owned national bank – one of those people’s mutual thingies.

It’s funny, really: I, too, think that we should be the owners of shares and the holders of stakes. You know, of things like the public assets that successive governments keep selling off; the public services they outsource to the profit-first sector; the infrastructure they fragment into financial packages. But no, Callme wants us to help buy other people’s houses for them and some shares in a crummy old bank with a public/private identity crisis. Twice.

The cognitive dissonance is so stark in its irony. The Cons want us to own private property as private individuals but not to own public property as a national collective. They bang on about the principle of inheritance and proclaim concern about the future we are leaving our children but make a complete mockery of our common inheritance. They want us to have shares in private financial institutions as individuals but not in public infrastructure and services, together. They want us to look after ourselves as proud, independent private citizens or as small, non-threatening groups that they can pass off as being entrepreneurial or beacons of localism – or responsible citizens in that creepy patriotic do-the-right-thing way – but they don’t want those services and resources upon which everyone depends for their common and basic needs to be in the control and interests of the people who need and use them. They don’t want us, as a population, owning assets in common, responsibly pooling our resources for efficiency, uniformity and affordability. No, because we might push for ethics, quality and sustainability; for reliability and ease of access. We might say we want Energy, Water, Railways etc to be monopolies if we can own them, so stuff your silly notions of choice and competition. We might factor in those inconvenient externalities such as the long-term costs of environmental and social impacts into our decisions.

Besides, a property-owning, share-owning democracy requires they not only approve of the existence of the State but also recognise and concede that the State is all of us – We, the People. No, of course they don’t want us to be sharing the ownership of national assets because if that was the property our ‘democracy’ owned shares in, that might look a little too much like actual devolution.

Pah.

What gave ‘the Right’ the right

What gave ‘the Right’
the right to call itself
this synonym by name
when antonym supplies
a what for why a thing is
not the same. It should
have more respect for
what’s direct and what’s
correct as in the way
‘Conservative’ is accuracy
spoken twice with Con
and serve so tightly spliced
within a euphemism sliced.

pounds with Hope

Ivory Tower cowers
under roar resounding
round the wild and fertile lands
as fanfare of the Commons,
bold as banners, pounds
with hope as old as every soul
did stand upon re-hallowed ground.

Competent Cons

We are the Competent Cons!
Guardians of your right to aspire
to live within our democratic manifesto.

Oh, see how well we govern!
Hail and praise!
Be all upstanding for
sound judgement and efficiency!

But, mark, you:
do not question our authority.
Just trust us. (Please…)

We said we’d fix the thatch –
Er – and, apart from that,
the rest is strictly need to know
and so must be restricted
to the leadership because
the brightness of our future
has been balanced on
our long-term economic con –
sorry – plan.
Plan..
It’s a plan,
clearly,
we’re just making up
as we Ponzi along
for as long as we Tory well can.

Oh, where does all the money go?

Oh, where does all the money go?
Coz where it’s needed, it don’t flow

The Greedies eat it, don’t cha know

We seed, they mow
We bleed, they feed
We serve, they crow
And holy Horus, don’t it show!

Observe how fat the buggers grow
With everybody else’s dough.